The article deals with the practical uses of the English language. The importance of the language in business, education, internet etc is highlighted.
Language is the most important invention of the human race. It was instrumental in transforming ordinary tool-using primates into the modern humans. It enabled our ancestors to grasp and communicate abstract concepts, giving rise to the first settlements and then to our modern civilizations.
Language is used in many different ways and for many different purposes. We write, speak, and sign it. We work with language, play with language, and earn our living with language. Language allows us to overgrow our pheromones in courting and seduction via prose and verse. We buy and sell, insult and praise, all by means of language.
Its purposes include informative, expressive and directive. The informative use of language is to communicate some sort of content that involves information, with the general assumption that the content is true. We also use language to express our ideas and emotions. Finally, we use language to direct the world around us telling others or ourselves how to act or behave in certain situations.
Having seen the impact and use of language in our daily lives, we turn to the language that is sometimes christened as the official language of the world, the English language. English has become what is known as a "Lingua Franca". A Lingua Franca is a language which is common used as a second language in order to facilitate communication. There have been many Lingua Francas in the history of the world including French, Koine Greek, Latin, Aramaic, and Sanskrit. No language has ever lasted as a permanent lingua franca. An exception seems to be English, which is growing stronger everyday and seems on the path to permanence and to be the first global Lingua Franca with 1.5 billion speakers and growing.
In order to become a lingua franca, there has to be an element of prestige associated with the language which would make people want to learn it and use it. This prestige normally comes about due to colonization, conquest, religion or economic factors. The current prestige associated with the English language came about because of two factors. The first was based on the number of nations the British colonized prior to World War II. The second was a result of the economic power wielded around the globe by the United States after World War II. Currently, it is economically beneficial for people in many nations to learn the English language. When asked why, they will often say it is the "language of business".
The importance of English lies in its use in daily life in the many avenues like international business, scientific research, internet etc. The practical uses of the language may be discerned by elaborating on the influence it has on these fields.
As far as the role in business is concerned, English is accepted as a standard language for global trade and commerce. It is required for all airline crews and for air traffic controllers. In addition, English is the standard for the shipping and maritime industries. One cannot do without the language in the hospitality industry, which caters to people around the world and thus needs English to act as a link between them and their customers. Many of the world's largest stock exchanges are based in English speaking countries. These include The New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, the American Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, etc. English has become a key language for investment, foreign exchange, and banking.
It also plays a major role in the education and employment prospects of people. Students of professional streams like engineering and medicine must have a good grasp of English for both learning and practice and further advancement in their careers. Foreign students bring in a lot of money to prestigious universities and thus require an English medium of instruction. It is also the means of scientific discourse and research on the global scale. English language has become so important in the employment sector, so much so that proficiency in it determines whether you get a job or not. Lucrative careers are open to anyone highly skilled in the language in any part of the world, allowing them to make more money than they can at home. With the advent of outsourcing, anyone knowing the language can land high-paying jobs.
Internet was invented in the West, and thus English is inherently built into it. The importance of the Internet grows rapidly in all fields of human life, including not only research and education but also marketing and trade as well as entertainment and hobbies. This implies that it becomes more and more important to know how to use Internet services and, as a part of this, to read and write English. Thus those skilled in the language can attend the best universities and advance their business to all corners of the globe. The wide use of English tends to polarize the world into Internet users and Internet illiterates. Most of the information and websites are available in English only and it becomes very difficult to translate every appropriate page into the language of the concerned country.
In conclusion, we can say that the English language runs the motor of the world currently and anyone not on the bandwagon of English users will be marginalized, in terms of educational, commercial and employment opportunities. It is the language in which the latest advancements in science, technology and human thought are spread. We must make the best use of English to develop ourselves culturally and materially so that we can compete with the best of the best in the world.